August 9

Today's Bible Reading
            Ruth 2
            Acts 27
            Jeremiah 37
            Psalms 10
            ''For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you. Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me." (Acts 27:23-25)
            Paul had just been through some incredible threats by Roman and Jewish leaders, but he had been promised safe passage to Rome to stand before Caesar.  By now, Paul knew that the promises of God were good.
This is the classic account of Paul's seafaring journey on the way to Rome; in fact, this is one of the best examples of ancient seafaring navigation in existence. I've been told that students at the Naval Academy have to read the 27th chapter of Acts to get an understanding of ancient seafaring. It is a gem of literary skill and unusual insight into seafaring of the ancient world.
            This passage is also a bulwark in substantiating the Word of God. Many years ago, several students were assigned certain significant events in the Bible to study in order to disprove them. One of these young men, Sir Walter Ramsey, was assigned the journeys of the Apostle Paul. In the 27th chapter, he was convinced of the validity of the Word of God and of God's plan upon his life. He was converted, became a great defender of the Christian faith, and wrote about the journeys of Paul.
            Many of us see a difficulty in every opportunity, but Paul saw an opportunity in every difficulty.  This was his opportunity to minister to those on the ship with him. I think we can see, in this passage, an actual allegory of the voyage of life.
            Consider, for example, the winds that blow against them.
            There was the Eastwind of difficulty(verse 4). The East wind will blow into each of our lives. You can expect that wind to blow in your life. ''For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea." (Psalms 107:25) No one achieves success for God without this wind of difficulty. Paul faced failure, fatigue, and frustration, and all of God's servants have faced all of these.
            We will also face the Southwind of blessing(verse 13).  This Scripture questions us, ''do you not know that the goodness of God leads you to repentance.” We take for granted when God sends the blessings into our lives, but even these are to draw us closer to Him.
            But there is another wind that will blow in our life.   It is the Northwind of death(verse 14).  This wind came threatening death to the occupants of that boat. Death is a reality. The Bible says, ''it is appointed to man once to die." How will you face death? How will your loved ones face death? How do you face even the threat and possibility of death. Paul faced it well.
            And then I am glad to report to you that God sent the Westwind of deliverance(verse 15). There was another time when the locust plague came into Egypt. The people were delivered by a West wind. There is a God who is able to deliver us from any wind that blows upon us. 
            In verse 44, they reached land and safety. Jesus was not their co-pilot, but their Pilot. Even as he faced the storm, the sword, and the snake, we find Paul admonishing people, abstaining from food, advising people. Just as Paul was going to Rome, we are going home regardless of the storn1. The stor1ns of life can never circumvent the will of God. ''Be of good cheer'', for I believe God. It will be just as it was told me. Never let your disaster rob you of your sense of destiny and the deity of God. May the testimony of the Apostle Paul be your testimony today.
            On my frequent visits to Hong Kong in the 80's and 90's, I discovered a Christian community that was excited about their faith, and committed to winning their loved ones to Christ. Many of the evangelical churches and Youth for Christ, along with many other marvelous organizations, are doing a significant work in seeking to evangelize Hong Kong. We need to pray that there will be continued religious freedom and that Hong Kong can continue to be a hub of activity and source of finance, outreach, discipling, media, and literature ministry to the Chinese on the mainland.
            The population is composite of the world from poor boat people to billionaire businessmen. A mighty move of God in this world city will have a significant impact on the growth of the church throughout China.  It is important that we pray for the saints of God in Hong Kong.